Flight Case

Unfortunately, this is not available to buy. We only made eight cases because they’re so expensive, and two of them have been launched into space. You can 3D print your own though. They’re made from 6063 grade aluminium which is standard for aerospace applications.

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Once the Raspberry Pi hardware has been inserted, the two halves are joined together by the four bolt enclosures in the corners. The finished product is the Astro Pi flight unit, shown here with only two of the six push buttons installed.

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The design may surprise you because it’s so big and bulky, but it satisfies the safety requirements that ESA and NASA have in place for small payloads aboard the ISS. The case provides access to all of the main Raspberry Pi ports, and accommodates the mini joystick and LED matrix of the Sense HAT. There is also a hole to allow air to reach the pressure and humidity sensors.

There are six general-purpose push buttons that provide standard functions like shutdown and reboot, but they can also be programmed by your code.

The pillars on the base each dissipate about 0.1 watts of heat and ensure that the Astro Pi can never become too hot in a microgravity environment. If you want to write code for it, remember that the camera module in the base faces in the opposite direction to the LED matrix on the top!

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The finished unit can be mounted onto the ISS multi-use brackets which are found all over the station, allowing the crew to position it as desired. For instance, if they wanted to aim the camera out of a window and keep it held in place, the brackets would be ideally suited for this.

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Columbus ISS Training Module in Germany – Image credit ESA